Millennials Need CUs—They Just Haven’t Met You Yet

Engage these consumers how and where they like to do business.

January 18, 2011
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Attracting youth: Five steps

The Model Youth Program Guide from the Credit Union National Association outlines five keys to attracting and serving this age group:

1. Formalize your commitment. Youth programming that’s an afterthought will fail. Focus on millennials in your mission statement and strategic plan. Their needs and wants must influence the steps you take toward long-term growth.

Making youth an official priority—with visible support from the executive and board level—sends an important message to staff and members.

2. Woo them while they’re young. It’s easier and less expensive to win the hearts and lifelong loyalty of an 11-year-old than a 21-year-old. You’ll have little competition because few financial institutions care about serving them.

But if you wait 10 years, you’ll spend a fortune trying to outmuscle megabanks for their attention and their business.

3. Communicate. Listen to young members. Ask them frequently, as individuals and in focus groups, about their financial goals and habits.

Don’t worry about “speaking their language.” Although you want to be aware of their cultural preferences, you’re not trying to be their friends—you’re trying to become a trusted financial partner.

For that role, plain English, spoken respectfully, and a genuine interest in what they have to say are sufficient.

4. Provide pertinent financial services. Financial education delivered in a vacuum will generate the same reaction as algebra lessons that are too abstract: The student wonders, “When am I ever going to use this?”

Base your efforts on the financial services that young people need, want, and can use: saving and investment accounts, transaction services, and credit.

Young members are a low-risk and profitable group once they’ve been educated about their responsibilities.

5. Enlist their aid. Form a youth advisory panel to generate ideas for service design and marketing tactics. Open an in-school branch and give students training and the chance to teach their peers and families about saving, credit, and membership.

Hire interns to project your credit union’s youthful image. Reward them for successful recruitment efforts.

“Although youth development is critical for growth, most credit unions don’t have a comprehensive generational marketing plan,” says Bill McKenna, president of Marketing Partners, a credit union marketing firm.

Make attracting younger members a priority, develop a youth marketing strategy, and dedicate ample resources to support your strategy, he advises.

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Great article! Unfortunately, most employees don’t feel valued or appreciated by their supervisors or employers. In fact, research has shown that the predominant reason team members quit their jobs is because they don’t feel valued. This is in spite of the fact that employee recognition programs have proliferated in the workplace – over 90% of all organizations in the U.S. has some form of employee recognition activities in place. But most employee recognition programs are viewed with skepticism and cynicism – because they aren’t viewed as being genuine in their communication of appreciation. Getting the “employee of the month” award, receiving a certificate of recognition, or a “Way to go, team!” email just don’t get the job done. How do you communicate authentic appreciation? We have found people have different ways that they want to be shown appreciation, and if you don’t communicate in the language of appreciation important to them, you essentially “miss the mark”. Additionally, employees need to receive recognition more than once a year at their performance review. Otherwise, they view the praise as “going through the motions”. A third component of authentic appreciation is that the communication has to be about them personally – not the department, not their group, but something they did. Finally, they have to believe that you mean what you say. How you treat them has to match the words you use. If you are not sure how your team members want to be shown appreciation, the Motivating By Appreciation Inventory ( will identify the language of appreciation and specific actions preferred by each employee. You then can create a group profile for your team, so everyone knows how to encourage one another. Remember, employees want to know that they are valued for what they contribute to the success of the organization. And communicating authentic appreciation in the ways they desire it can make the difference between keeping your quality team members or having a negative work environment that everyone wants to leave. Paul White, Ph.D., is the co-author of The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace with Dr. Gary Chapman.

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